What can I say? Should I sing Ahaha kalyANam like the way Chandrababu did for S Balachander in Penn? Or should it be tirukkalyANam seidu kONDArE
kaNDu darisittellOrkum kATci tandArE
as Kavi Kunjara Bharati sang for Deivanai’s wedding to Murugan?
Last evening a relative was gifting a jewel to the temple and I was serendipitously invited to attend the celestial wedding. Memories from childhood reminded me that this event is a rather tame affair after the hustle and bustle of the daily processions. It is also hard on the nether regions by which I mean hip, glut, hamstring and all below that, for it involves remaining seated on the floor with very little maneuvering space, for four hours. But a ring side seat to witness Kapali’s wedding was too good an offer and who knows when He will invite me again? So I did go and was I glad I did.
There is a picturesqueness to this ceremony that is amazing. The event begins with Kapali all decorated and bejeweled as befitting a bridegroom and waiting opposite the punnai tree. At an appropriate moment the Goddess emerges from the shrine, symbolising Her having shed the peacock form. She then goes around Kapali and the two mount the wedding platform.
Nothing much happened for the next three hours. But the nagaswaram and tavil ensemble was fantastic. I wonder who the artistes (two nagaswaram players) were. Ananda bhairavi and ShaNmukhapriya were the two highlights. During this time the gifts for the bridal couple kept coming in – saris, dhotis, sweets, savouries, flowers and even wooden toys. The action hotted up in the last hour. The priests began the hOmam.The grace with which the officiating priest – Balaji I learnt his name was, did the upachAras and mudrAs was a delight. That a man of such immense bulk could pack so much of elegance was a wonder. He deftly got Kapali into a pancakaccam, changed His sacred thread and then all was ready.
Kapali and Karpagam tied the knot at 10.00pm. The music, the tEvAram and the mantras reached a crescendo when the priest pressed two yellow strands laden with several mangalsUtras on to Kapali’s hands and then tied them one each on the PriyAvIDai (the consort who shares Kapali’s seat) and Karpagam. He then pressed kumkumam on Kapali’s hand and took it across to the Goddess and daubed Her forehead with it.
Almost as if by clockwork, several ladies in the throng, who had waited thus far with huge covered vessels, opened them and began distributing sweets. The preparation and distribution are voluntary efforts and this participative spirit is what makes the brahmOtsavam festival so popular. Everyone rejoiced as though it was a family event.
I left by 10.30 pm. Somehow the hip, glut and hamstring do not enjoy these events as much as the eye, heart and mind. I wished I had the stern resolve of my friend Saseendran who was staying on to witness Kapali go around the tank at midnight, with Ravana as His mount. Next year maybe…